"We now have over a thousand confirmed cases of individuals with these so-called magical abilities on the continent alone. The faculty has descended into a terrible uproar over the proper nomenclature for such specimens. All manner of Latin phrases have been bandied about. Professor Gerard even suggested Grimnoir, a combination of the old French Grimoire, or book of spells, with Noir, for Black, in the sense of the mysterious, for at this juncture the origin of said Powers remains unknown. He was laughed down. Personally, Iíve taken to calling them wizards, for the very idea of there being actual magic beyond the bounds of science causes my esteemed colleagues to sputter and choke."
Dr. L. Fulci, Professor of Natural Science, University of Bern, Personal Journal 1852
"The learned gentlemen from the university have asked me if I relied on Einsteinís General Theory of Relativity or if I used the simpler rules of Newtonís Law of Universal Gravitation on the evening in question when I accidentally took Sheriff Johnsonís life . Shit. I donít know. I just got angry and squished the fucker. But Iíve gotten better at running things and I promise not to do it no more."
Jake Sullivan, Parole Hearing, Rockville State Penitentiary 1928
Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eyeóand an ex-con. Heís free because he has a magical talent, being able to alter the force of gravity in himself and objects in his vicinity, and the Bureau of Investigation calls on him when they need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical talents. But the last operation he was sent along to help with went completely wrong, and Delilah Jones, the woman the G-men were after, who just happened to be an old friend of Jakeís in happier times, had a lot of magical muscle with her, too much muscle for the cops to handle, even with Jakeís help.It got worse. Jake found out that not only have the Feds been lying to him, but there was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users. Worst of all, he had attracted the attention of one side's ruthless leaders-who were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live...The Grimnoir Chronicles is an Alternate History fantasy taking place in the early 1930s. Sometime in the 1800s magic appeared in the world, giving a small fraction of the population one of a standard set of super-powers, such as fire, healing, and teleporting. Just like his other series, Larry Correia provides some of the best action scenes out there, fueled by pure distilled Rule of Cool. A gravity-controlling private eye teams up with a guy who can walk through walls to fight a bulletproof samurai. A teleporting ninja with a katana goes up against a teleporting Oklahoma girl with a shotgun. Bullets fly, demons are summoned, and stuff blows up.The first in the series is Hard Magic (released May 3 2011). After Jake Sullivan fails to bring in his former Love Interest for murder, he makes some inquiries and finds out that things aren't what they seem. He's soon caught up with a secret society sworn to stop the Japanese Imperium, led by the indestructible Chairman Tokugawa, from taking over the world. At the same time, an Okie named Faye witnesses the murder of her adoptive grandfather at the hands of a mysterious one-eyed man. His dying command is for her to protect a strange mechanical device, designed by someone named Tesla.The sequel Spellbound is out as of November 1 2011. It follows up on some of the sequel bait from the first book — such as the entity stated to be pursuing The Power itself.The third book, Warbound was released in August 2013.
Alternate History: Aside from the major change of people starting to gain magical abilities in the mid-19th century some more traditional chnages are Teddy Roosevelt pursuing a military career rather than a political one and becoming a general who dies in The Great War, Hitler being executed in 1929, the Great Dust Bowl getting an early start due to a misaimed government attempt at weather manipulation in 1929 (in OTL it didn't get really bad until 1933) and the Titanic being saved by an Active.
And in the second book, Hammer. And Whisper, who throws a gods's fire back at it.
All Your Powers Combined: It's subtly hinted at at the end of Spellbound, and outright stated by Fuller in Warbound: Faye isn't a Traveler. She's actually a Cog, whose power manifests in her understanding and being able to use all the powers. She's not just a telporting agent of chaos, she's a telporting agent of chaos who can heal the injured, read your mind, and unleash black holes
Analogy Backfire: When one of the Grimnoir elders skeptically refers to the Pathfinder as Sullivan's "white whale," Sullivan points out that the whale was real.
Anti-Magic: The Dymaxion Nullifier is introduced in Spellbound. You can destroy them magically, it's just not a good idea, as it requires spellbinding a Nixe's power...which is unleashing black holes
Babies Ever After: Sullivan marries Lady Origami and fathers a son at the end of the third book.
Berserk Button: Faye's dangerously unstable most of the time, but if Francis is threatened, she's downright terrifying.
She also reacts badly to pretty much anything involving her grandpa's death.
Trying to harm Jane will result in Dan ordering you to blow your own brains out, and you will consider it an excellent idea.
Beware the Nice Ones: Faye very calmly vows to kill both Madi and the Chairman himself. She manages half of that, facilitates the other half and makes up the difference in mooks and property damage.
Jake notes that she's really the nicest person in the world most of the time, until you cross her invisible line, whereupon she just kills you without a second thought.
Dan's a nice guy; in fact, his power revolves around being pleasant and ingratiating with people. Unless he gets really mad, whereupon he speaks with the voice of a god and can cause all but the most strong-willed individuals to instantly commit suicide.
Beware the Superman: Part of the Imperium's plan for taking over the world is to sow distrust of Actives in the United States, by framing them for a Peace Ray attack.
BFG: Jake carries two different ones at various points of the book. During an Imperium assault on a Grimnoir safehouse, Heinrich and Francis break out a Browning M2 heavy machine gun, a weapon so large that Faye mistakes it for some piece of farm machinery.
In Warbound, an Imperium super-bazooka that's basically a launcher for Boomer power appears, and it obliterates the top half on an apartment building in one shot
The Big Damn Kiss: Faye and Francis share one of these when they're reunited in the third book. They have maybe fifteen minutes before the world is destroyed, but she figures they can spare a few seconds.
Boxed Crook: Jake is a fairly free-range one at the beginning of the book.
Bullying a Dragon: One of the Grimnoir knights is rude to Faye. Browning reminds him that this is the girl who killed several hundred Imperium troops, fought the Chairman, and teleported an airship across the Pacific. The other knight quietly apologizes.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: A common trait of Cogs. Buckminster Fuller is a prominent example: he's staggeringly brilliant and has a habit of making up words and expecting everyone to understand them.
Cosmic Entity: The Power itself turns out to be some kind of massive space... thing, which is in a symbiotic relationship with the people of Earth. It's on the run from a mysterious Enemy; can you say 'Sequel Hook?'
Chekhov's Gun: Early on, it's said that the Chairman could only killed by a direct hit from a Peace Ray/Geo-Tel. Guess how he dies at the end.
Evil Twin: Not a twin per se, but Jake and his brother (Madi) look similar enough that Faye shoots him on sight.
Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Madi does this to himself near the end of Hard Magic when he notices that Jake has brought Dan along. He remembers the dumpy little guy from the mansion, but can't quite remember what his power is...then he remembers, just as Dan commands Madi's troops to commit suicide.
False Flag Operation: In the second book President-elect Roosevelt is attacked by an Active assassin sent by the OSI so that they can manipulate public opinion and use that to pass various laws controlling Actives and place them under their authority.
Fiction 500: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is the richest man in the world, and owner of United Blimp & Freight. Francis is his grandson, and ends up inheriting the company.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Faye starts the first book as a poor Okie girl with a power that's likely to get her killed trying to use it. By the end of the third, she's fought and injured the Chairman and survived that, teleported an entire airship thousands of miles, killed the uber-Summoned, and manages to kill a zeppelin battleship by herself.
Gadgeteer Genius: Much of the current technology is produced or at least initially developed by Cogs, whose Power is a supernatural aptitude for a particular branch of science.
Genius Bruiser: Jake. Exceptionally well-read, brilliant enough to figure out what the Power really is, and a giant hulk of a man.
Invoked by Walter Donovan in one of the chapter quotes: "the ideal OCI man is a PHD who could win a bar fight."
Good Is Not Nice: Ian Wright is an arrogant, argumentative jerk, but he's a loyal knight and can be incredibly brave in a pinch.
Gravity Master: Sullivan and his brother Madi can control gravity. Most Heavies can only lighten objects that they try to carry, but Sullivan practiced with his Power enough that he can change the direction of gravity, amplify it, etc.
Gun Porn: Toned down from the Monster Hunter International series, since they have magic to fight with too this time, but that doesn't keep John Moses Browning from giving Sullivan a tour of his workshop.
Happily Adopted: Faye...until her adopted parent is killed by Imperium agents.
Healing Hands: Healers such as Jane are in high demand, and a standard part of any rich person's retinue.
Healing Factor: Passive Healers. Also, anyone with one or more kanji of healing.
Heart Is an Awesome Power: Lance's power is mostly strictly limited to recon unless there are large predators handy, but he can be pretty creative with it, as when he stops a car chase by making a cow run in front of the other car. And wink.
Heavies are generally considered among the most useless Actives out there, since all most of them can do is make heavy things a little lighter. Jake has practiced and studied enough that he's one of the most powerful characters in the series.
Hero with Bad Publicity: Near the beginning of Book Two, the Grimnoir are framed for an assassination attempt on FDR, and spend the rest of the book dealing with the fallout.
Historical-Domain Character: John J. "Black Jack" Pershing and John Moses Browning are both Grimnoir knights, and Sullivan has some unpleasant dealings with J. Edgar Hoover.
In the second book, Buckminister Fuller makes a brief but significant appearance (he has a larger role in the third book). A United States Navy "Lieutenant Heinlein" makes a briefer, much less significant appearance.
In the third book, it's revealed that Winston Churchill and William Donovan are Grimnoir elders.
Also in the third book, turns out that Rasputin was one of the Chairman's students.
In the second and third books, Francis's right-hand man is Raymond Chandler.
Just the First Citizen: In the epilogue of book three, Toru becomes the new Chairman. Well, he claims that he's just another one of the Emperor's ministers, but Sullivan doesn't doubt that Toru has managed to acquire the power of that position even if he hasn't gotten the official job title.
Known Only by Their Nickname: The real name of Lady Origami (Also known as Ori for short) is Akane. This doesn't get revealed until late in the third book.
Let's Get Dangerous: Lance is a Beastie, who can control animals, and generally uses squirrels, birds, and dogs for recon. And then the final battle in Spellbound he decides to borrows a Siberian Tiger from the National Zoo. In Warbound he uses a Polar Bear. And in his final battle he takes over an Imperium Shadow Guard and has him murder all his comrades before committing suicide.
Living on Borrowed Time / The Last Dance: Shortly after Delilah is killed, she is accidentally revived as a zombie by an Imperium necromancer. Rather than being immediately put down, she decides to go out fighting.
Little Miss Badass: Faye, who may or may not be 18 yet and is pretty small. She irritates everyone trying to fight her by not being where they think she is and, in the final battle, kills around a hundred Imperium marines and wounds the Chairman. In Spellbound, the evil OCI chief is scared by Sullivan and a Lance-controlled Siberian Tiger. He's utterly terrified of Faye.
In Warbound she kills an Imperium Kaga-class zeppelin by herself. As in, she solos the largest, most powerful warship on the planet. In under four minutes.
It's eventually revealed that she can use any power she wants.
Made of Iron: Madi and Rokusaburo in particular, Brutes, Massives and people with kanji of durability in general.
Magic A Is Magic A: Turns out there are very structured cosmological underpinnings to the seemingly-random magical gifts.
Mighty Whitey: Madi is a villainous example leavened only by the fact that there are other Caucasians in the Iron Guard, none of whom are on his level or that of the Japanese members.
Mini Map: Faye has a "head map" that shows her all people and obstacles around her. It lets her teleport safely without ending up in a wall, makes her impossible to sneak up on, and she can punch the map through a communication spell to travel long distances.
Mind Control: Beasties such as Lance can control animals and see through their eyes for reconnaissance. Mouths like Dan can control people to a limited extent, but can't make them do anything they wouldn't consider anyway.
Mundane Utility: Donald Bryce is a Lazarus who works for the Grimnoir. He used to be an NYPD homicide detective known for always closing his cases.
Near Death Experience: Both Jake and Faye. When caught up in it, they can see the two most powerful beings on Earth: The Power itself, and the Chairman.
Necromancer: In-setting, an Active (such as Hiroyasu) that can raise and command zombies is called a "Lazarus." They are the most universally hated groups of Actives, even by other Actives, due to their power.
Then, of course, robots show up in the sequel Spellbound.
Noble Bigot: Travelin' Joe hates the Okies that pass by his farm, but not so much that he doesn't adopt one to keep her from killing herself with her power.
Not Quite Saved Enough: The Chairman killed two Pathfinders of The Enemy, but a third is on the way and he isn't around to stop it this time. He actually only killed one. The third Pathfinder is actually the second, which escaped him and has been subverting influential Actives around the world for half a century, and is now ready to call its master.
Odd Friendship: Smooth, friendly Mouth Dan and taciturn, paranoid Fade Heinrich.
Oddly Common Rarity: The first book mentions multiple times that Healers in particular are the rarest of the rare among the rare individuals at are Active... and yet it also mentions multiple forms of Actives who are so rare that they're barely known. People with enough money can find multiple Healers to have on-call, but no one can find a Nixie to ask what he does, despite the name being known. The second book doesn't have anyone talk about how rare Healers are, probably because the heroes keep finding Actives they didn't know of in the first book.
One Person, One Power: an in-setting rule of thumb to which Chairman Okubo Tokugawa is the sole exception as far as anyone knows, though people who are very skilled with their one power can often emulate a related one. For example, Sullivan can use fine gravity control as a makeshift telekinetic ability. In the third book, Faye is revealed to be a Cog who can use any power she wants.
Pet the Dog: In a very human and even kind moment, the Chairman consoles Sullivan over Delilah's death and helps him come to terms with it; Sullivan even sincerely thanks him for it. . . right before saying that he still plans on killing him regardless.
Playing with Fire: Torches. Most Torches are actually employed to put out fires, especially on zeppelins.
Technician Versus Performer: Zig-zagged; while Faye's natural talent lets her run circles around the well-trained Toshiko, Jake's greater power does not generally keep him from getting smacked around by the more skillful Madi.
Token Evil Teammate: Sociopathic psychologist Dr. Wells in the third book. In the end it's revealed that he's taken control of the Shanghai underworld.
Training from Hell: Madi has this in his backstory. Presumably, the other Iron Guards did as well.
Tranquil Fury: Jao the Icebox in Warbound. When he meets the man who murdered his family, he very calmly lists the man's crimes while freezing him solid.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Plain, overweight Dan and movie-star gorgeous Jane. It helps that, as a Healer, she sees people's insides rather than their outsides.
Un Equal Rites: There are two forms of magic in this world: the innate magic that people are born with, and magic that comes through drawn symbols (kanji). As it turns out, they have the same ultimate source.
Victory Is Boring: The reason the Chairman doesn't just wipe out the Grimnoir? Because they're interesting, and being immortal can get very dull sometimes.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In the assault on OCI headquarters, Lance manages to hijack a Siberian tiger. Then everything goes to hell, almost literally. What happened to the tiger is never explained.
Wicked Cultured: The Chairman. Madi tries to emulate his mentor in this, but fails miserably.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Crow's summoning magic has been augmented to the point that he can possess the bodies of the creatures he summons. The drawback is that this has a negative effect on his mental stability, especially when he uses a powerful demon.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Chairman just wants humanity to be strong so we'll be able to fight The Enemy when it arrives. Harkeness curses the General in order to set up a Batman Gambit against the Chairman
Worthy Opponent: The Chairman views Sullivan as this. The feeling isn't entirely mutual.
Toru comes to think of Sullivan as this over the course of the second and third books. This time, the feeling's mutual.
Zeppelins from Another World: Kind of. Zeppelins play a large role in the story, but it takes place during a time when they really were used in Real Life, though not to the extent they are in the story. It's also justified, as Cracklers and Torches manage to alleviate many of the dangers of the technology.